Artificial Reality on the immediate horizon?

There’s no doubt artificial intelligence can supersede many roles that we, as mere mortals, struggle with on a daily basis. But how far can the technology go in replicating work practices that have been honed over centuries and require a level of human touch to get just right?

The rise in the use and potential for AI has several sectors buzzing at the thought of a futuristic robot performing a complex set of tasks. Usually thought most useful in the areas of manufacturing, science and the military, the technology aims to replicate human thinking through smart machines capable of performing tasks that we’d normally do – or do them quicker and more efficiently.

Data analytics, process automation and intelligence gathering are the obvious ones to benefit from AI, but are we heading towards a time when functions such as marketing will be replaced by a machine?

To a certain degree it’s already happened. According to a recent article in Forbes, once artificial intelligence is put to work in the sales and marketing processes, data from websites, social media accounts, and contact databases can be analysed for insights to help improve the number of leads generated as well as the quality of those leads.

Even newsrooms use AI to make sense of mountains of information. Patrick White, in a piece for The Conversation, writes artificial intelligence can help journalism. For example, AI will send an alert as soon as a trend or anomaly emerges from big data so fact-checking, analysis and contextualising can then be carried out.

White warns though that one of the dangers of AI in journalism (and for us that turns back to functions such as publicity and marketing) is algorithm bias, as they are designed by humans.

An extension of this is the issue of who or what determines the of quality information produced through AI. The infinite monkey theorem is a good example that throwing enough mud will surely result in some sticking. The theorem says that a large number of monkeys hitting keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, the most often quoted example the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Back in 2015 Gartner predicted 20 per cent of business content would be authored by machines by 2018. There is no doubt machines are already writing content, but it’s usually the drivel we gloss over or have little engagement with. So one asks, what’s the point?

In our view, humankind will always be required to provide critical analysis and creativity in any marketing campaign. AI can certainly assist, but let’s not get overly excited about the rise of the machines.